Autonomous Vehicles - Driving the future of commercial fleets?
With the excitement around driverless vehicles growing daily, should the fleet industry welcome the new opportunities the technology offers with open arms? Or adopt a more cautious approach?
Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and Google all hope to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020. Ford says it will deliver a high-volume vehicle for ride-sharing by 2021. As the driverless era grows closer, the fleet industry is considering its reaction.
Some fleet managers are hesitant to be early adopters of AVs. Whilst features like automatic braking can increase passenger safety, others where the vehicle primarily drives itself but could require input from the human driver, seem risky. The driver could be too distracted to provide the instant reaction needed to avoid a crash. And in case of an accident, who or what will be considered at fault?
Others expressed caution but appreciated possible safety and productivity benefits. Fleets will be able to capitalize through the reduction of accidents - which may decrease future consumer demand for auto insurance products - while drivers can be removed from the task of driving, and could then complete other tasks, while in transit or commuting.
Fleet managers seem divided since the future isn't as clear-cut.
And whilst Hollywood, in films like Logan, sometimes presents a dystopian vision of the driverless vehicle at the forefront of product delivery, industry insiders are confident that by optimizing vehicle routing and operation delivery, driverless fleets will be a massive source of future revenue.
Insurance and safety regulations will naturally pose big questions. For example what type of training will drivers need before driving an autonomous vehicle? Determining the at-fault party for accidents involving a driver and self-driving vehicle will pose interesting challenges for the insurance industry.
With public perception remaining a major driver of the pace of change for fleet managers, the implementation of driverless technology may ultimately come down to the speed at which the general public accepts it. Age remains a factor, with a younger demographic open to change, but a majority still have concerns. High-profile negative incidents for early adopters could slow things drastically. But every forward-thinking fleet manager would agree that this game-changing technology cannot be ignored.
1. Fleet Financials, Will Commercial Fleets Embrace Autonomous Vehicles?
2. Popular Mechanics, The 12 Most Important Questions About Self-Driving Cars
- Autonomous vehicles
- Commercial fleets
- Driverless vehicles
- Fleet industry
- increase passenger safety
- Reduction of accidents
- insurance and safety regulations
- driving an autonomous vehicle
- Driverless technology